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Summer Indie Film Preview

Summer Indie Film Preview (photo)

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Yes, we’re excited to see “Iron Man 2,” “Inception” and God help us, “Predators.” But what we’re really looking forward to spending a few hours in the company of an undertaking Bill Murray (“Get Low”), an Italian-speaking Tilda Swinton (“I Am Love”) and a toga-wearing Rachel Weisz (“Agora”) in the comfort of air-conditioned theater over the next three months. (Either that or we’ll be enjoying them from the comfort of home online, on demand or on DVD.)

There are no less than 114 independently produced movies arriving in theaters this summer to compete with the big studio blockbusters and we’ve compiled this helpful guide that covers all of them. Yet realizing that the latest arthouse and foreign fare is subject to changing dates, particularly if you don’t live in Los Angeles or New York, we’ve also included links to follow the films on Twitter, Facebook and release schedules where available, so even if something you’ve been dying to see doesn’t look like it will be coming soon to a theater near you, you can keep tabs and, in some cases, demand it. Whether you’re in the mood for John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill riffing in the new Duplass brothers’ movie “Cyrus” or the perversity of Yorgos Lanthimos’ Cannes winner “Dogtooth,” there’s a little something for everyone this summer.

Select a monthMay | June | July
Select a week7th | 14th | 21st | 28th

Week Ending May 7th

“Babies” (IMDb, Facebook, trailer)
Director: Thomas Balmès
The Gist: If you’ve seen the showstopping trailer that elicits “awwws” from even the most cold-hearted moviegoers, you’re already familiar with French filmmaker Balmès’ globetrotting documentary that follows the development of four infants in four separate countries. From the womb to the first time they stand upright, the film shows toddlers from Namibia, Tokyo, San Francisco and Mongolia during their first few months of life.

“Casino Jack and the United States of Money” (IMDb, Facebook, trailer, release schedule)
Director: Alex Gibney
Fest Cred: Sundance, Dallas
The Gist: Oscar-winning “Enron: The Smartest Guy in the Room” director Gibney has already ruffled some feathers over the title for his exposé of disgraced lobbyist (since George Hickenlooper also laid claim to it for his upcoming fictional account starring Kevin Spacey, and Abramoff was reported to have tipped him off to the title). But expect Gibney to ruffle some more with all the Washington higher-ups included in this look at Abramoff’s rise within the Republican Party as a trusted operative and bagman, including former U.S. representatives Bob Ney and Tom DeLay, who both sit down for interviews.

“DDR/DDR” (release schedule)
Director: Amie Siegel
The Gist: Conceptual artist Siegel’s latest arrives at New York’s Anthology Film Archives after premiering at the 2008 Whitney Biennial, condensing footage of dilapidated architecture, East German reenactments of Native American culture, interviews with psychoanalysts and Stasi security camera videos into a reflection on the fall of the German Democratic Republic.

“15 Minutes of Fame” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Charles Malik Whitfield, Shiek Mahmud-Bey, Elisa Donovan, Alan Rosenberg, Richard T. Jones, Adam Rodriguez
Writer/Director: Jo D. Jonz
The Gist: Based on a real-life experience between buds Jonz and “Scrubs” star Donald Faison (who’s an executive producer), four friends in Los Angeles soon learn that it was a mistake to let their New York filmmaking pal into their home to shoot his latest movie. The comedy is getting a one-week run at West Hollywood’s Sunset 5.

“Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then” (Twitter, trailer)
Director: Brent Green
The Gist: Longtime experimental animator Green embarks on his first feature, a stop-motion production that blends live actors with wooden characters to tell the story of a man who built a sprawling home for his wife by hand in the hope that it would cure her of terminal cancer, based on the true tale of Kentucky hardware clerk Leonard Wood. The film’s one-week run at the IFC Center corresponds with a current exhibition of Green’s work at the Andrew Edin Gallery.

“Happiness Runs” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Mark L. Young, Hanna Hall, Jessie Plemons, Laura Peters, Shiloh Fernandez, Andie MacDowell, Rutger Hauer
Writer/Director: Adam Sherman
The Gist: Following up his 2004 feature “Dead Doll” (notable for being co-written by “Momma’s Man” director Azazel Jacobs and starring “Wristcutters” director Goran Dukic), Sherman’s coming-of-age drama stars Young as a Victor, teen starting to question the principles behind the hippie commune he’s grown up in where free love and mind control (for the benefit of the men) rule. When Victor’s best friend Becky (Hall) returns to the commune to care for her sick father and he begins to have visions of her death, Victor attempts to leave the cult with Becky in tow, to the chagrin of the cult’s leader (Hauer, whose presence is probably worth the price of admission).

“The Infidel” (IMDb, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Omid Djalili, Richard Schiff, Archie Panjabi, Igal Naor, Amit Shah, Matt Lucas
Director: Josh Appignanesi
Fest Cred: Tribeca
The Gist: After years of bit parts in films like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Love Guru,” British-Iranian comic Djalili gets a star turn in this comedy about a Muslim cabbie who discovers late in life that he’s actually Jewish, leading him to seek out lessons in Judaic ways from his fellow driver (Schiff). Also available on VOD, the film is following up its recent debut at the Tribeca Film Festival with a one-week run at New York’s Tribeca Cinemas starting on Wednesday, May 5th.

“The Lightkeepers” (IMDb, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Blythe Danner, Mamie Gummer, Tom Wisdom, Bruce Dern, Julie Harris
Director: Daniel Adams
Fest Cred: Palm Springs
The Gist: Although it was unsuccessful in its bizarre bid for Oscar nominations at the end of ’09, this turn-of-the-century romance stars Dreyfuss as a crusty seaman and lighthouse operator in Cape Cod whose vow to never fall in love again after the death of his wife is threatened by the arrival of two women (Danner and Gummer) who take residence in the neighboring cottage.

“Mother and Child” (IMDb, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits, David Morse, Shareeka Epps
Director: Rodrigo Garcia
Fest Cred: Toronto, Sundance
The Gist: Touted as a possible Oscar contender for Bening’s performance after it played Toronto, Sony Pictures Classics picked up the latest femme-centric drama from “Nine Lives” director Garcia that takes a few notes from its executive producer Alejandro González Iñárritu in weaving together the stories of a nurse (Bening) who gave up a baby as a teen, her grown-up biological daughter (Watts) and a woman (Washington) who is looking to adopt since she can’t conceive. Smits, Morse and Jackson play the men in their lives.

“Multiple Sarcasms” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Timothy Hutton, Mira Sorvino, Dana Delany, Mario Van Peebles, India Ennenga, Laila Robins, Stockard Channing
Director: Brooks Branch
Fest Cred: AFI Dallas
The Gist: First-time writer/director Branch has collected quite the cast for this ’70s-set character study of a New York-based architect (Hutton) who is dissatisfied with his job and rededicates himself to writing a script about his life, inspired by his afternoons of escapism at the local movie theater, which in turn causes him to reflect on the decisions he made that have led him to such personal disappointment. Delany and Ennenga co-star as the wife and daughter, respectively, who try to cheer him up.

“The Oath” (IMDb, release schedule)
Director: Laura Poitras
Fest Cred: Berlinale, Sundance, New Directors/New Films, True/False, SXSW
The Gist: Following the Oscar-nominated “My Country, My Country,” Poitras completes the second in her so-called post-9/11 “New American Century” trilogy with an investigation into the lives of Abu Jandal and Salim Hamdam, brothers-in-law who became involved in al Qaeda during the ’90s and saw their lives change dramatically, as the rest of the world did on that fateful day.

“Ocean of Pearls” (IMDb, Facebook, trailer, release schedule)
The Cast: Omid Abtahi, Heather McComb, Ron Canada, Navi Rawat, Ajay Mehta, Todd Babcock, Brenda Strong, Dennis Haskins
Director: Sarab Neelam
Fest Cred: Miami, Fèstroia-Troia, White Sands, Sedona
The Gist: A talented Sikh surgeon (Abtahi) faces a crisis of conscience when his insistence to adhere to tradition with a full beard and turban threatens to derail his chance to become chief of surgery in Detroit, though his decision to abandon it could have a ripple effect on his friends and family back home. If that isn’t enough to sell you, “Saved by the Bell” fans can expect a rare dramatic turn from Mr. Belding himself, Dennis Haskins. Opens at the Big Cinemas in New York for a one-week run.

“OSS 117: Lost in Rio” (IMDb, Facebook, exclusive clip)
The Cast: Jean Dujardin, Louise Monot, Rüdiger Vogler, Alex Lutz, Reem Kherici
Writer/Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Fest Cred: Seattle, PiFan, Palm Springs
The Gist: For fans of the swinging super spy Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath (a.k.a. OSS 117), Music Box Films is bringing the second adventure in the French spoof series Stateside, picking up a dozen years after the events of “OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies.” This time around, the top secret agent (Dujardin) is teamed with busty Mossad agent Dolores Kuleshov (Monot) to help retrieve a compromising microfilm of French Nazi sympathizers from the clutches of a Third Reich blackmailer.

“Road, Movie” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Abhay Deol, Satish Kaushik, Tannishthah Chatterjee, Mohammad Faizal
Writer/Director: Dev Benegal
Fest Cred: Toronto, Tokyo, Tribeca, Berlinale
The Gist: Poised to inherit his father’s hair oil business, Vishnu (Deol) sees an opportunity to become his own man when he is handed the keys to his uncle’s Chevy pick-up and sets off across the desert to deliver it to a museum, collecting a gypsy (Chatterjee), an entertainer (Kaushik) and a runaway (Faizal) along the way. “Lost in Translation” producer and “Taking Chance” director Ross Katz handled the producing duties on this drama that will be playing a one-week run at New York’s Tribeca Cinemas starting on Wednesday, May 5th.

“sex & drugs & rock & roll” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Andy Serkis, Ray Winstone, Olivia Williams, Naomie Harris, Mackenzie Crook, Bill Milner
Director: Mat Whitecross
Fest Cred: Berlinale, Tribeca
The Gist: Andy Serkis gives a bravura, BAFTA-nominated performance as transgressive rocker Ian Dury in the solo directorial debut of Michael Winterbottom collaborator Whitecross. Williams and Harris co-star as the women in Dury’s life, which is shaped by an early bout with polio and the relationships he has with his father (Winstone) and his son (“Son of Rambow” star Milner), and brought to vivid life with pop art-inspired animated sequences, concert footage and underwater performances. Coming off its U.S. debut at Tribeca, the festival is bringing the film to VOD and a one-week theatrical run at the Tribeca Cinemas in New York starting Wednesday, May 5th.

“Trash Humpers” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
Director: Harmony Korine
Fest Cred: Toronto, New York, Vancouver, London, AFI, Leeds, Oslo, Rotterdam, SXSW
The Gist: “‘Trash Humpers’ is very much literally what the title says it is: it’s a movie about people that like to hump trash,” director Korine told IFC News back in October when the film premiered at the New York Film Festival. According to the “Gummo” provocateur, we probably shouldn’t even be referring to it as a film, but rather found footage shot on VHS in which a group of mask-wearing voyeurs go around Nashville, indulging in various forms of antisocial behavior from smashing televisions to squatting on people’s doorways. Surprisingly, the most controversy it’s generated so far is when it won for best feature at Copenhagen’s prestigious documentary festival CPH:DOX last fall.

“The Trotsky” (IMDb, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Jay Baruchel, Geneviève Bujold, Anne-Marie Cadieux, Colm Feore, Emily Hampshire, Michael Murphy, Saul Rubinek
Writer/Director: Jacob Tierney
Fest Cred: Toronto, Tokyo, Whistler, Rotterdam, Tribeca
The Gist: Following turns in “She’s Out of My League” and “How to Train Your Dragon,” Ottawa-born Baruchel continues his streak by returning to Canada for this high school-set comedy about a revolution-minded student who believes he’s the second coming of Leon Trotsky and gets a rude awakening when his father (Rubinek) sends him to public school. An audience award winner in Tokyo and the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax, the satire is crossing the U.S. border for a one-week run at New York’s Tribeca Cinemas starting Wednesday, May 5th, in addition to its ongoing VOD run.

“Welcome” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Vincent Lindon, Firat Ayverdi, Audrey Dana
Writer/Director: Philippe Lioret
Fest Cred: Berlinale, Istanbul, Seattle, Karlovy Vary, Helsinki, Warsaw
The Gist: Simon (Lindon), a middle-aged swimming instructor, finds an unexpected kinship with Bilal (Ayverdi), a 17-year-old Kurdish refugee, in this multi-César nominated drama that sees the two men looking at uncertain futures when Bilal runs into the authorities while en route to reunite with his girlfriend in England as Simon faces the end of his marriage. When Bilal comes looking to train so he can swim across the English Channel, his quest inspires both to change their lives. The film will start an exclusive engagement at New York’s Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.

“The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia” (IMDb, Facebook, trailer)
Director: Julien Nitzberg
Fest Cred: Tribeca, San Francisco Doc Fest
The Gist: “Jackass”‘s Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine used their discretionary MTV production fund to back this documentary about the Appalachia-based White family, the redneck clan whose criminal exploits were already exemplified in the 1991 doc “Dancing Outlaw” about mountain dancer Jesco White. Here, that film’s associate producer Nitzberg makes his feature-length doc debut by following the entire family for 18 months as they engage in armed sieges, pregnancies and jail bailouts. A year after its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, it’s getting a VOD release and a week-long run at the Tribeca Cinemas in New York starting on Wednesday, May 5th.

Continue to May 14th »

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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